On a front patio of a Greek restaurant in Malibu, Kid Rock puffs on a thick cigar, holding court with friends and family visiting from Detroit; the topics range from Michigan football to Senator Larry Craig's bathroom escapade. It's after 11 P.M. when the 36-year-old musician born Robert Ritchie leaves, driving his black Mercedes up the Pacific Coast Highway to his new house. Inside, it looks like a pricey boutique hotel; there are scented candles, orchids, and a wine fridge. The only signifiers that say "Kid Rock" are a pewter Detroit Tigers tchotchke on a desk and a photo of him tossing the middle finger. That's because this isn't actually Kid Rock's home -- it's his residence, an important distinction. "I don't live here! I live in Detroit," he insists. That said, for a second house, there's a pretty big pool outside.
Despite his attempts to remain a humble Midwesterner, the man who has sold more than 20 million albums is clearly a long way from his days as a struggling rap-rocker in the Motor City, where he attended all-black clubs as a "dirty little white kid with Airwalk shoes and a painter's cap." But even as Rock settles in as a member of the, gulp, rock'n'roll establishment, he can't quite leave his rabblerousing past behind -- less than a week after this interview, he'll be charged with a misdemeanor for punching longtime nemesis Tommy Lee at MTV's Video Music Awards in Las Vegas.
Still, sitting for an interview on the eve of release of his eighth studio album, Rock N Roll Jesus, Rock doesn't shy away from any topic. Armed with a trailer-size load of life lessons, he speaks openly about the Iraq war, the arrest of his former DJ Uncle Kracker, the corrosive power of fame, and even ex-wife Pam Anderson and Tommy Lee's notorious video. So here is some wisdom, maybe a type of gospel, from a man who once proclaimed, "God saved my soul / You save the fuckin' rain forest."
We'll Always Have Detroit
I can fly anywhere I want and be a part of any scene. If I want to hop to the south of France and be a knucklehead there, I can. If I want to hang out in New Orleans, I can do that. But to be a part of a community, to be a pillar in that community, to really be respected, that's different. You can't teach tall, you can't sell short, and you can't buy cool. Being in Detroit is definitely a lot of cool for me.
Seek Out a Good Pair of, Um, Personalities
I'm the type of person that likes it all. I don't like to settle for less. So I'm just waiting for the right woman to come along, with one real breast and one fake one.
Don't Get Caught. Actually, Never Mind...
Howard Stern had the best line after that video [of Scott Stapp and me] came out. He said, "Okay, so I understand you're in this fucking trailer getting blown by these chicks, and Scott Stapp comes in. I just want to know, what the fuck were you doing hanging out with Scott Stapp?" That seems to be the general consensus. I don't think anybody even cares that Kid Rock is getting blown by a couple of chicks after a show. Oh, big surprise! Breaking news! That's why I have the greatest job. You can get caught with your pants down, literally, but everyone just seems to go, "Oh, it's Kid Rock."
Uncle Kracker Won't Crack
I was like, "Dude. That does not read well. Second-degree sexual assault is not a good headline." He was like, "Bro, you're telling me? I've sold five million records, and this is the most press I've ever gotten in my life, because somebody's trying to get some cash." We pride ourselves on being crazy, but we also pride ourselves on [standing for] what is right. There's shit we don't do. We won't stand for it. It'll all come out in the wash. You just try to pass it off with a laugh, because you know it's bullshit. You can't let that shit run your life.
Know Your Audience
There's no good American blues rock out there anymore. It's gone. For the last three or four years, friends have come up to me and said, "You are positioned to make a great rock record. There's nobody that's set up for it better than you! You could fucking own it!" That's what this record will do.
Take His Name in Vain, If You Need To
I think Jesus' name needs to be put back out there. I was actually talking with Reverend Run about this, and he said, "If God could actually talk, I think he'd say, 'They kicked me out of school. They don't want me in the public school system anymore.' " I'm gonna stick Jesus' name back out there any way can, 'cause I love Jesus. Someone can say it's blasphemy all day long, and I say bullshit! I don't need the Lord's money to make a name. I'm motherfucking rich.
Freedom Ain't Free
I definitely know that Middle America doesn't want some guy that won a Grammy or an Oscar making our decisions for us or trying to influence us by telling us their political views. I know this much: I stand by our military. I always have, 'cause those kids don't create diplomacy, they execute it. Whether it's right or wrong, you've got to give those kids everything you've got, every ounce of support. If it weren't for guns and Americans that knew how to use 'em, we'd all be sitting around going, "Heil Hitler!"
Pandering Is for Punks
I'm happy becoming what I think is a better musician, rather than trying to rethink it all to get a video on TRL. It was great when I was on TRL, but standing in a studio as a 36-year-old, with kids screaming, isn't where I want to be.
Don't Disappoint the Dudes
It's not interesting that I'm disciplining my child and that I'm helping out around the house and doing the things a father is supposed to do. Me being a fucking knucklehead and getting caught drunk on the beach in Malibu -- now, that's fucking funny! Everyone comes up to me and says, "I wanna party with that dude!" "C'mon, Rock, let's do a shot!" I honestly can't be anybody but who I am.
"You Gotta Love Ted Nugent, Man!"
When it comes to shit like [threatening Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton at a recent gig], I'm on Ted's side, because he's a Michigander. Even if I don't agree with his views, I'll talk to him in private about it. I'll always take my friend's side. Even if my friend starts the fight and I know he's wrong, I'll stand up for him. Then I'll pull him aside later and say, "You're a fucking idiot. You know that?"
Choose Dough, Not Blow
An old-fashioned coke habit would be smarter than getting addicted to fame. You'd be better off getting a heroin problem, as far as I'm concerned. Tupac said it best: "All I want is money. Fuck the fame." Fame is a fucking killer.
On His Ex Doing XXX
Who gives a shit? Especially when you get to my age. At the end of the day, it's not who you have been fucking. It's are you fucking me now?
Don't Hate, Appreciate
My last record "flopped" at 1.8 million. I love reading that. Because I'm reading that while sitting on a gold toilet taking a shit!